SPOILER ALERT WARNING: THIS FIC TAKES PLACE AFTER THEY LEAVE NIMBASA CITY. HOWEVER, THE ONLY NIMBASA EPISODE RELATED EVENTS THAT ARE MENTIONED HAVE ALREADY AIRED IN NORTH AMERICA. So, you really aren’t being told anything outside of what you already know if you follow the Dub.
CONTENT WARNING: Fic contains a few suggestive comments (actually, I think there’s really only one instance of suggestiveness), but there is no vulgar language or violence. May contain Cilan sparkles.
I dedicate this fic to the entire Wishfulshipping thread and all the members therein. Even though I don’t really participate in that particular thread because I have popularforumthreadphobia and have a knack for not posting for long periods of time (on top of the fact that I still have yet to go through everything that’s been posted so far), I still liked reading all the comments made there because they usually made lousy days so much better. So thank you, random strangers, for helping a fellow feel less depressed. I wish to give you this in return: a random Holiday/New Year present in the form of a story.
So this fic gave me some trouble for quite a while, partly because this is the second time in my life that I’ve ever written first person past tense and partly because I had to change my sentences to match those more like a ten year old. Now I’m not saying that Iris doesn’t know what the word “contracted” means, but I highly doubt she’d use that particular word choice in her day-to-day thought processes. Come to think of it, I don’t think I use that word all that often either…so why did I think of it in the middle of writing this?
I only hope I got the characters right. Oh and by the way, the name Mira I got from the word “admiration”. Because all name in the Pokémon world are nothing but puns. What’s that? There’s already a character named Mira (Platinum)? Well…I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I borrowed her name for a bit. And uh…nobody tell Cilan that the names he cites share the acronyms of medical testing devices.
As I said before, this is told in Iris’ perspective. Usually I’d have no problem doing a guy perspective, but I’m a little nervous about all the food references and long winded sentences I’d probably have to do if I add another part for Cilan’s perspective. I’m considering it, though.
I didn’t like it. Something just didn’t feel right to me.
I glanced over to look at that girl, Mira, as we made our way towards the middle of the forest. When Ash, Cilan, and I left Nimbasa City, I don’t think any of us were expecting to be followed. Or at least, I wasn’t expecting to be followed. Don’t know about Ash; there’s some weird stuff that goes on through his kid brain sometimes.
That girl wouldn’t stop talking. But what’s worse is the fact that Cilan was encouraging her by responding. I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised since he likes to talk too, but still. You’d have thought more people in our group would have been a little more suspicious of the fact that I caught her spying on us not 10 minutes ago. In the bushes, by the way. Someone sneaking around the woods would usually be a cause for alarm, but no; we allowed her to come and tag along! And by “we” I meant Ash and Cilan.
I can’t really blame them though. To the average person she’d look pretty normal: short brown hair, brown eyes, frilly pink shirt, and denim looking skirt. Just about what you’d expect from any other girl of a major city. It was her bag, or rather the fact that she didn’t have a bag, that gave her away. Someone who was really traveling would at least have a bottle of water with them, but she didn’t have anything.
But maybe I could have just been overreacting. After all, she really could have been lost in the forest like she said she was. And I could have just imagined seeing her back in Nimbasa following us from afar. So I tried to get into the conversation. I thought that maybe, if I acted like myself, the weird feeling I had of her would go away.
“Man, am I starving,” Ash moaned as he patted his stomach.
“Since when are you never?” I asked as I rolled my eyes
“Never,” was the oh-so witty reply I got. Meh! Sure, I wasn’t good at clever words like a connoisseur I knew oh so well, but I was never really beaten with them by a kid. It didn’t really help my mood.
“It looks like there’s a clearing ahead,” Cilan said as he peered at his techno-map thingy “Shall we take a break and have lunch?”
“That’s sounds like a great idea!” Mira exclaimed as she ran up to walk beside Cilan. The strange feeling came back; was it because she glanced at my Axew just now?
“Yeah!” I agreed, making my way to walk beside her. It didn’t seem like she noticed the angry glares I was sending her, because she was too busy staring at Cilan. Almost as though she was purposely avoiding my gaze. It was all really, really suspicious if you asked me.
So we put up the table in the middle of the forest and Cilan went off to the side to mess with his usual cook stuff.
“I’ll help,” Mira offered gleefully. Why were her eyes darting back and forth like that? Or was that just my imagination too?
“I appreciate the offer,” Cilan began, his face apologetic, “But why don’t you take a moment to enjoy this beautiful forest scenery?”
“Say, Ash, have you shown her your badges yet?”
“That’s right!” Ash got all excited and practically dragged her toward his backpack “Just wait ‘til you see them all. They’re pretty cool looking.”
This wasn’t the first time Cilan politely preoccupied someone who tried to help him cook. I wondered if he preferred it this way…
I glanced over to make sure Ash and Mira were out of earshot. Now was my chance to talk to somebody without her around to bug me.
“Hey…Cilan…” I asked a little unsurely.
“What is it, Iris?” He set aside his utensils and turned to face me. That…worried me a little. Cilan never stopped what he was doing whenever one of us talked to him before. I felt like I was bothering him a little.
“I’m getting a really bad feeling from Mira. I think it could be my sixth sense picking up on something.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Iris,” Cilan gave me one of those you-ought-to-know-better looks that he always gave me whenever I mentioned anything ‘unscientific’, “A new face may seem like a strange ingredient added at a peculiar moment, but in time that flavor could give way to more delectable tastes. You should enjoy the company while it lasts.”
“But I found her in the bushes! And she didn’t even have a backpack to travel with!”
“Most people who get lost in a forest will occasional get stuck in some foliage or lose their supplies to wild Pokémon. She might be among the unfortunate to have experienced both. There isn’t anything unusual in that, and there isn’t any evidence that suggest she’s planning something.”
“Don’t worry so much. If you over think everything, you’ll lose the ability to enjoy the simple things in life. A little relaxation is food for the mind.”
And after giving me one of those dazzling smiles he happened to be so good at, he went back to work. Argh! I get that he wasn’t trying to be mean, and that he really didn’t believe in the same things I did, but still! It aggravated me that he just shoves off any suggestion that there might be a sinister power at work here! And of course, he had to mention evidence and all that. But who needed evidence when Mira even ACTED suspicious?! I secretly hoped karma came back to get him...
But that only reminded me of the time I decided to steal one of the offerings on a gravestone. Yeah, that wasn’t my smartest moment. So…well I hoped karma would only get back at him a little bit. It would horrible if Cilan had full-blown spiritual attack on him.
I walked back to Ash and Mira all frustrated. That girl asked me what was wrong, but I didn’t feel like answering her. The strange feeling I got from her was getting worse as I put my head down on the table to concentrate. Ash and Mira seemed to be too busy talking about something childish to pay much attention to me. But Axew stuck its head out of my hair to gently prod me and I patted him on the head as a signal to not worry.
“I’m ok, I guess,” I whispered to him with a frown, “But that could change. We have to keep a watch out for that girl. I just know she’s planning something…”
“Ax-ew,” my partner said.
“Lunch is served!”came Cilan’s all too happy and familiar voice several minutes later. I sat up in my chair as he placed a plate filled with his special peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Out of all the sandwiches and special dishes he ever came up with, this one happened to be my favorite.
“This is so delicious. Has to be the best I ever had!” Mira said. It wasn’t fair! I was going to say that! Well, ok, so I wasn’t going to say those exact words but…but….
The funny feeling I had been having all day came back, and when Mira stopped to look at my Axew for a second time I couldn’t keep it in any longer.
I slammed my hands on the table, maybe a little too hard because I ended up knocking Ash’s drink down. But I ignored that; I didn’t want to lose focus.
“What is your deal?” I demanded, staring straight into Mira’s face.
“Er…” Mira stared back at me with confusion and surprise. Ha! She didn’t even think I’d catch on to her.
Cilan looked a little surprised too, and Ash…well. The kid was too busy mourning his spilt drink.
“You can’t honestly expect me to believe that you really got lost in the forest, do you? Because I remember seeing you watching us in Nimbasa city.”
I caught a flash of guilt across her face. So she WAS hiding something after all. I liked being right.
“Well…?” I asked again, and I grinned as I saw her squirm in her seat. When Meowth betrayed us in Nimbasa, I hated it. I hated not knowing what happened to my Pokémon, and I hated feeling like I might never see them again. But most of all, I hated knowing that all of that could have been avoided if I hadn’t trusted Meowth so easily. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again. And as I glanced at my side to see Axew leering at Mira, I wondered if he was thinking the same thing.
“All right. I…wasn’t lost, I was following all of you,” Mira finally admitted.
“Aha! Thought you could steal our Pokémon, did you?”
“No, no! It’s not what you think! I…um…” for some reason, she looked back at Cilan for a moment.
“Then what-“ but I was interrupted as Mira spewed out a jumble of words:
“I was walking along in Nimbasa City one day at Gear station, and I accidentally fell off the platform and onto the tracks…” I barely paid any attention to what she said. I think I was still focused on that earlier statement, “I knew the trains have a sensor on them, but there was already one speeding towards the platform, and I was sure they wouldn’t be able to stop in time…” I mean…I’m pretty sure I always had pretty good hearing. So whatever it was I heard was probably what she really said…well wasn’t it?
“And that’s when Cilan came along,” She gave him a bashful look or something. Cilan smiled politely in return, but there seemed to be another emotion that didn’t look familiar to me on his face.
“So I followed all of you,” Mira seemed embarrassed as she turned to look back at me, “I’m really, really sorry if I caused concern, or if I was a burden or anything.”
“Nonsense, you’re not a burden,” Cilan said, his eyes all aglow with happiness and stuff.
“So…er..does this mean you return my feelings?” Mira asked with this disgusting hopeful expression. I got that bad feeling back; there was something ELSE going on here.
“Umm…” Cilan got all nervous. But he wouldn’t have actually gotten together with this…person who was obviously scheming something. Would he? He was all smiley with her…
“Hey, is this the same as the thing with the Cottonee?” Ash stupidly asked. Man, did I ever roll my eyes at that one!
“Yes, Ash,” I said.
“So, does this mean you two will become best buds?” He continued with that happy-go-lucky smile on his face.
“No, Ash! That’s not what will happen!” For some reason, I couldn’t help but yell at this point. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Mira was still hiding something from us. Ash seemed a little bit taken aback by my outburst, but I didn’t feel in the mood to explain, yet again, the concept of love to him.
“Ash, do you remember challenging Chili, Cress, and myself at Striaton?” Cilan brought up this because….?
“Of course! I’d never forget a gym match!”
“Do you remember the young ladies cheering for the three of us?” I certainly didn’t forget them. They were annoying. And a little scary.
“Oh yeah. Your fans,” Ash said in surprise, as though it took him a while to remember something.
“It’s…a little like that,” Cilan stated. I guess that’s the closest we were going to get Ash to understand.
“You have fans? Anyone I should worry about?” Mira teased. Cilan had that same unidentifiable expression as he had before.
“Hey…how do you get fans anyways?” Ash asked with a gleeful look. Did he want fans now or something?
“You just get popular. Isn’t that obvious?” I said, as I sat Axew down to eat the Pokémon food Cilan put out.
“Well, how did you get fans Cilan?” Uh…because he’s a Gym Leader? That was another obvious answer.
“That’s an excellent question, Ash!” When Cilan got up to strike a pose, I knew immediately that this was going to be another overdramatic speech. Groan.
“You see, for the longest time, I wanted to become a Pokémon Connoisseur. So at a young age, I left my brothers to go to school. I was rather good at it, and quickly rose to the rank of an A class Connoisseur,” He held out his hands as though he were giving a show. Complete with a smile. I swear, a lot of times you could see sparkles behind him. Gah.
“My brothers and I had always loved to cook, and it had always been a dearest wish of ours to open a café to present our skills that we worked so hard to advance. I had left Chili and Cress to attend school not long after we converted a portion of the gym into a restaurant. It wasn’t long after that the two of them realized we were in desperate need of funds!” Cilan placed his hand on his forehead as though he were talking about the tragic death of a beloved Pokémon, and not a restaurant that lacked a few bucks.
“When I heard things weren’t going as smoothly as they should at home,” Cilan continued, “ I rushed back to Striaton. And there I was met with a bittersweet sight! The business, at the point of bankruptcy! Our dreams of owning a restaurant was fading like a perfect sorbet left out in the summer heat. So we decided we had no choice but to resort to…rather unsavory actions.”
Unsavory actions? At that point, I couldn’t help but think of Cilan standing in front of hordes of fan girls while smiling and sparkling and taking off hi-
wait…I thought, and I brought whatever the dragon’s breath I was going to think about to a halt. I mean…what…what was THAT? No, seriously. What was that?!
“What did you do?” Ash asked. Ash, ash, ASH. You did NOT ask that question! Honestly, was he such a love idiot that he can’t see a suggestive statement when it hits him in the face? Or was he purposely doing this just to get me to think of…nngh!
I started to rustle my hair in frustration as though it would somehow get rid of the images creeping up on me. But, of course, it didn’t. Worst of all, I didn’t even know why this was happening to me now of all times. I hope it had nothing to do with when we met Bianca for the first time and she accidentally knocked Ash and Cilan into the river and Cilan had to take off hi-aaaaaahh!! NO! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
“We…” Cilan continued, as though it pained him to admit it out loud “We had to raise the price of our menu items an extra dollar and…and I…”
Oh…oh no. I wondered a little if holding my ears would do anything.
“I had to CHARGE people for my connoisseur evaluations!”
“THAT’S the ‘unsavory’ part of your past? Charging people for an evaluation??” I was mad. For good reason too! There Cilan was, sticking stupid images in my mind with his mega-drama act and did he...did he even notice? Did he care that he was placing pictures of…of….I winced as those…those images started to creep back into my head, forcing me to rustle my hair in irritation again.
“No, no Iris! You don’t understand!” Cilan wagged a finger at me with a self-assured expression before he clenched his fist as though he were contemplating the horror that was his past. Or something like that. “A connoisseur’s duty is to see the relationship between Pokémon and people. You can’t possibly put a price on the bond that binds us to our partners! To do so would be a crime. A crime I tell you! I’m…I’m a criminal!”
And here he fell to the ground with his hands to his face in a soap-opera expression of sorrow. Well, he was certainly guilty of something: nearly giving me a heart attack! There he was, on another one of his over the top mini-plays, throwing out words like “unsavory actions” as though we wouldn’t mind being force fed suggestive stuff and URGH! What. A. Pain.
“I’m sure it couldn’t have been that bad…” Ash said, I guess to cheer him up, but then he stopped smiling and with a serious face asked “Is it really illegal to charge people?”
“No, Ash. But it’s the concept of it!” Cilan remarked, standing up with some newfound determination, “E.E. Gerald, E.K. Gordon, and M.R. Isley; you don’t see them charging people for evaluations! And they’re the best of the best! Idols for all connoisseurs and connoisseuses to live up to!”
I glanced over at Mira, hoping that maybe she’d think we were all crazy and leave us alone. But she just stood there quietly with a grin and glittery eyes. I turned to make sure Axew was still there, and decided I should probably check every so often just in case. I wouldn’t want her taking my partner.
“So you got your fans through evaluations?”
“More or less. Most came into the restaurant for an evaluation and ended up regular customers after they tried our food,” Cilan said, his drama show dying down. Somehow, I didn’t think food was ever the real reason they decided to come back.
“You know, I doubt food was the reason they came back,” Mira said with a grin. She…just said what I…
OH THAT DOES IT.
Those were my thoughts as I grabbed her by the arm and started dragging her into the forest.
“We’re going for a walk!” I yelled over my shoulder to Ash and Cilan, both of whom just stood there with dumbfounded expressions. Urgh. Boys!
“Ok, now tell me what you’re really after. And don’t say Cilan,” I said as I jerked her to stand in front of me.
“But…I’m only here for Cilan. I mean he’s so dreamy the way tha-“
“STOP! Stop talking about him like you know him! Because you don’t!”
I don’t know what spirit possessed me to say all that. But I felt a little better after I yelled at her.
Mira blinked…and stared at me like an open mouthed basculin. Pretty much what I think she’d look like if I had just jump-kicked her in her smarmy little face.
“Oh…I’m…I’m really sorry,” And then she got all awkward, “I didn’t know you had a thing for him. I wouldn’t ha-“
“Wait jus--what did you just say?”
“You like him. I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner, I’m sure a lot of the stuff I brought up must have been pretty awkward.”
“I do NOT like Cilan,” She was doing this to distract me, wasn’t she?
“But you don’t seem to like it when I talk about him,” Mira seemed to put her sympathetic mask on, but I wasn’t going to let her change the topic.
“No! You! You’re after our Pokémon, aren’t you? You thought you could fool me with your Cilan adoration show, and you might have fooled Ash, but I’m not going to be easy to dupe!”
“Um…Iris…” Mira looked hesitant, “If you were so concerned about me stealing your Pokémon, why didn’t you bring your Axew?”
…Axew! I reached up into the folds of my hair, but he wasn’t to be found. I did bring him didn’t I? It took me a while to realize that I had left him to eat in the clearing. If this was about Pokémon, why didn’t I bring mine?
“But…” Now I was the hesitant sounding one, “But my sixth sense clearly picked up something wrong from you…”
“Sixth sense?” I glared at her as I got the feeling that I was going to have to defend my belief in the unseen yet again, but she flinched and backed away a step after the look I gave her, “I…don’t really have anything against peoples’ sixth sense but…Are you…sure it isn’t jealousy you feel?”
Jealousy? No…it couldn’t be. My sixth sense is…
I looked up into the face of Mira. She suddenly didn’t look mean or suspicious. In fact, she looked rather sympathetic.
“No…” I said, denying her remark again. But this time, I didn’t sound as sure. I didn’t feel as sure, “It’s…don’t be ridiculous. I mean, Cilan?”
I stared straight at the ground and started messing with my lower lip to the point where it began to bleed a little.
“Iris? Um…are you ok?” Mira reached out for my shoulder, but I made a break for it.
“Iris!” The girl called out as I ran deeper into the forest. I didn’t want to hear her anymore. And I didn’t want to go back to the two boys either. I just wanted to…to sort things out a bit. On my own.
I wasn’t…upset. Or happy. Or sad. Or any of that. I was just…
I couldn’t have been…All this time, I couldn’t have possibly been…
The more I thought about it, the faster I ran through the forest. Maybe I was a little upset.
But…I’m not…not some fan girl! I’m not! I’m not someone that spends her days sighing over some guy just because he happens to be dressed as a waiter, and cooks good food, and gets all passionate about his hobbies, and is really good with Pokémon, and is super nice, and has this wonderful smile and…and..
At that point, I stopped running and fell to the ground. Actually, it was more like I tripped into a hole. I can’t remember if I stopped running because I was exhausted or because I tripped or because I just realized…I did like Cilan.
I did like the way he said things, the way he dealt with other people. A part of me even liked the way he got all dramatic when he talked about being a such and such connoisseur.
And it all made sense, even if I didn’t like admitting it. I thought about the events of the day, and remembered that the strange feeling always got worse whenever Mira involved Cilan. Not to mention that image that came when he mentioned fans and….er…and how his smile seemed so much brighter and…
I laughed a little shakily. It seemed like I was starting to use logic. Just like him.
Why did things go this way? It never once occurred to me that the dread feeling in the pit of my stomach wasn’t my sixth sense at all. And it’s not like I haven’t been jealous before. Just…not over a boy. Not over CILAN.
And darn it! I’m an independent person! I shouldn’t have had the urge to cry in the middle of a forest over a boy of all things! It was stupid!
But I didn’t know what to do. What did people do in situations like these? If I told him my feelings, I would be giving up that independent part of myself, in a way. Wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t I be giving up something…a part of myself? And he might not feel anywhere similar to what I feel, and that would only make things worse.
It was making my head hurt just thinking about all of this.
I jolted upright. Of course it had to be Cilan.
“Go away,” I told him. I sat there telling myself over and over to NOT start tearing up or something stupid like that. I refused to be that type of pathetic girl.
“Iris, are you all right? Did you fall down there?” I was suddenly reminded I was in a hole. Both literally and figuratively. Why did he have to sound so nice? It only made all the thoughts spinning around in my head even more fuzzy.
“No. Go away.”
“Are you hurt? Do you need help?” Concern and kindness. Why didn’t he just stop?
“No...Now please. Please, just go away!”
“Iris…Iris, Please look at me,” No, I didn’t want him to see me like this. He was going to taunt me, wasn’t he? Not that he ever was the type to taunt someone who was upset, but I wasn’t really thinking straight. All I could think about was how horrible things would be if anyone saw me while I was all...acting stupid. He was going to taunt me and tease me for sitting on the ground for being stupidly upset over stupid little things. After all, I was acting like a kid, and he’d have every right to point that out.
So I sat there for what seemed like forever. I knew he didn’t leave because I didn’t hear anything and I could feel his spirit behind me. And as the seconds crept by, I got more and more upset.
“Go ahead! Call me a child! Call me stupid, and silly, an-“ I swung around, letting out all that stuff bottled up, ready to face whatever self-assured or chiding face he might have on, ready to spat out my worst and maybe even tackle my problem…but I stopped.
I stopped because he didn’t look condescending, or angry, or upset, or even apologetic. He was smiling. Smiling and offering a hand, his eyes never leaving mine. But it wasn’t the same kind of smile that I was used to. It wasn’t the smile he used whenever Ash did something stupid, it wasn’t the smile he used whenever a battle was won, or even the smile he used when he was complemented on his cooking. It was…an understanding smile. A kind and understanding smile, as if nothing else mattered outside of helping me out of this hole.
And he just stood there, quietly waiting. As though to make a statement. As though he was saying ‘You don’t have to rush. Take my hand whenever you feel ready.’
I could have made my own way out of that hole. Just for the record. I didn’t need his help, and I’m sure he realized that. So why did I reach for his hand anyways?
And why did I feel so much better?